Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

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Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK For most of the Boston Celtics' first-round series with New York, the Glen Davis we had come to expect was nowhere to be found.

Known for stepping his game up in the playoffs, the Celtics' undersized power forward was consistently underwhelming at every turn.

In Boston's first three playoff games against New York, he was 5-for-16 from the field.

And his defense?

That wasn't much better, either.

But then came Easter Sunday 2011, a day folks across the world recognize the power of resurrection.

On a much smaller scale that day at Madison Square Garden, we saw Davis return to the game-changing, high-impact super-sub the Celtics have come to know and love.

The end result was a 14-point night, one of several factors in the Celtics knocking off the Knicks, 101-89, to complete a four-game sweep.

By beating the Knicks in such a quick fashion, the Celtics came home to a couple days off as opposed to having to prepare for a Game 5 matchup against the Knicks.

Even as the Celtics rolled through the first three games against New York, it was clear Davis was trying too hard.

"I feel relief," he said following Sunday's win.

Coach Doc Rivers is often Davis' biggest critic.

Although it doesn't always look like it, he's also one of his biggest supporters.

That's why even when Davis struggled, Rivers never lost faith in that at some point, Davis would get on track and help the Celtics win.

But there are times when Rivers, who knows all too well how emotional Davis can be, has to take that additional step with the 25-year-old and sit him down for a one-on-one talk.

The two had such a conversation recently, and the result . . . well, we saw it on Easter Sunday.

"Sometimes, emotionally I can get down on myself or get frustrated," said Davis, who made 6-of-8 shots in the C's series-clinching victory. "Emotionally you kind of worry about the wrong things."

Lately, Davis said he has been worrying about what he can do to help the C's instead of just playing his game.

Rivers reminded him this week that simply being who he is, is exactly what the Celtics need.

"I wanted to help my team anyway possible," Davis said. "Things weren't working my way, so you get frustrated."

What Davis was experiencing, Rivers said, was symbolic of what the Celtics' second unit as a whole was going through in this series.

In the first three games, it was clear Boston's success was primarily because of the starters playing exceptionally well.

But in Game 4, Boston's bench proved to be the difference.

"We had a big lead (in Game 4), and it was because of our bench," Rivers said. "They all were feeling the adversity and going through it, and they just hung in there. That's what happens in the playoffs. This was a great example of that. You play one or two bad games, and everyone tells you how bad you are, you start rushing. They just came out and played."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”